November 20, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: It's not goat season...

"It's duck season, it's rabbit season, no it's duck season, NO it's RABBIT season..." As my 3 years old says, "No, it's deer season!" Here in West Virginia deer season opened today. Where most people only get Wednesday-Friday off of school, we get the whole week because kids just wouldn't attend school. Mr. Native Farmer is off work as well. That is how big deer season where I live actually is, and it brings all new issues this year.
I have an alpine goat named Cammie, who is currently heavily pregnant. She looks just like a deer. Granted she is in an enclosed area, in my garden, with a pink collar on, but that hasn't stopped people from telling me they thought she was a deer. They go a bit deer crazy here... This whole week, especially the first and last days of the season, I will be worrying someone might mistake my goat (who is amongst other goats might I add) will get shot. Now you think people wouldn't shoot at her, through a scope she would clearly NOT be a deer, but people shoot cows, dogs, horses, and other creatures mistaking them for deer all the time. People shoot OVER our black Angus cows all the time. If they were to hit one of our cows they are responsible for the price of the cow and any calf it has with it, since it would stunt at this point in its life if it lost its momma.
I am not against hunting... I am against stupidity. Just like I am not against running bear dogs, but there are some dumb people in this world... and it seems they love to wield a gun. Mr. Native Farmer is currently out on his stand trying to get us a deer for this year, but we shall see if he gets anything. I heard a few shots around this morning, which is why I am waiting to feed and water the animals this morning. Hunters have been known to "kill the noise" if you catch my drift and there is no need putting my animals in harm's way.

For now, hope everyone stays safe this week and have a Happy Turkey Day if you are in the USA!

November 6, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Juggling a Homestead Day

Now, I have talked a lot about homesteading lately. I am in the process of imbedding that word in my life permanently. When I was in Scotland, I was into crafting and school work. Now I am up to my elbows in animals, garden, homesteading, and kids. That kind of shift in perspective hasn't happened just once in my life. I have picked up and changed my entire lifestyle in a moments notice many... many times. I know the old adage that people don't change. That is a bunch of malarkey, many people do it ALL the the time, I have a friend from when I lived in Dallas who now is on a family cattle farm, she was the most city girl I knew but she upped and left that and started a new adventure (strange me and her live almost identical lives and we grew up across the street, literally, from each other). If you think the homesteading life isn't in conjunction with your lifestyle then I urge you to think about this: If it appeals to you think long and hard why it does, if your current lifestyle was everything you need you wouldn't be peeking to see if the grass is greener. One thing I like about homesteading is you can take it in small chunks or dive in head first and hope for the best (don't expect it though, research is key).

So let me enlighten you about yesterday and what is on the agenda for today. Full disclosure: I am writing this at 4am, I have been up since 2am because Miss C decided to wake up. Once I have had 4 hours of sleep, I physically can't go back to sleep once I get up. That whole sleep when kids sleep doesn't apply to 95% of parents, so nicely don't give that advice.

Yesterday (Sunday):
5am wake up due to Miss C (she is teething and having a milestone so these wake ups are common until it passes)
7am Miss P wakes up and we do our morning routine: YooHoo and a show.
7.30am I do my morning feed everyone routine. Takes about 30 minutes.
8am Miss C and Daddy wake up and are hungry
9am I make breakfast of flakey biscuits, bacon, and farm eggs.
9.30am I go out to finish my milk stand (I got goats last week).
10.15am Our neighbor came by to level our driveway so Mr. Native Farmer had to go out and I had to finish getting Miss P ready for her day out with Papaw.
10.45am Me and the girls go to the grandparents (they live next door) to drop Miss P off while the leveling is going on.
11.30am Me and Miss C come back and I am back to finishing the goat stand... in the rain.
11.45am I check the chickens for eggs (normally there are eggs but this day they waited until 5pm to lay any).
12pm Lunch
12.30pm Me and Mr. Native Farmer dropp Miss C with Grammie and we go work on fencing on the farm to fence off hay lots from the cows.
4.30pm We finish all of that work and go on the farm to check for calves.
5pm We come back to the house to milk a goat for the first time... not even kidding.
5.30pm I head back to pick up Miss C and Miss P
6.15pm We come back to eat dinner
7pm Girls and Daddy go to bedtime routine
7.30pm Me and Mr Native Farmer relax and watch some shows
9pm We are all out asleep.

That was my Sunday. My last 3 weeks have been that jammed pack. There are untold household chores mixed in all of that plus cooking and childcare.

Today I plan on doing my normal feeding routine, cleaning out the coop, maybe tying out the goats, and of course milking some more. On top of that I have countless chores and small tasks to complete today, all before 8pm. That is my Dancing with the Stars break. I LIVE for Mondays during these times.

It is HARD, I am not going to sugar coat it because there are more then just a single person's life on the line when homesteading. I have my husband, my kids, cats, chickens, ducks, and goats. They all require parts of me, and I need to tend to them like I do my garden. Without tending to them they will not get the full benefit. My kids absolutely adore their animals and they love the pigs that are temporarily on the farm (neighbors are holding 2 pigs here for a short time). They get so excited seeing the cows, every time. They love my garden and the cotton plant that is in the house, that thinks it still needs to flower. Really, the exhaustion is from being a bit out of shape and after two close pregnancies, it takes a toll on your body that takes years to recover from, time you don't get when raising kids.

The word "farm" puts into mind men working out in the fields, but homesteading is normally a joint effort. My kids truly enjoy this lifestyle, homesteading and farming. If they chose to pursue it later in life that is great and they won't have to start from scratch but if they choose it isn't their lifestyle then that is ok as well, I have been in a lot of different situations in my life and whatever they come up against I, as their parent, will be there to help guide them and watch how they figure it out for themselves.

That is why I do it, the absolute joy of my family have in taking on care of the animals, farm and garden. Miss C feeds the chickies and goats one blade of grass at a time (thankfully the goats seem to understand littles and gently take the blade without getting snotty). Miss P feeds "her" chickies she has been waiting for "forever" and she loves feeding the goats. She has favorite animals. They enjoy handing apples to the cows and tossing them to the pigs. I had to move the mealworm farm because they kept looking in the drawers. They also love putting shredded paper into the worm tub.

Under the surface of all of this, I do all the household chores, inside and outside; I do the childcare and most of the raising decisions; and I maintain and upkeep an old farmhouse. On top of this we have the same little issues that creep up here and there. Let's not even mention I do have a full business I am running as well. One day, when I get my house under control, a lot of what I will be doing will be old hat and habit. My house won't be out of a catalogue, my family makes sure of that every day, but it will be effortless and streamlined. I hate having to search 45 minutes for a tape measurer or some tool I need or running out of screws. You know... those niggles but once I am a bit more simplified I will get this homesteading juggling act a bit more refined and then my family or animals will throw a wrench in the works and I will adapt and change.

Happy Homesteading.

October 30, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Yellow Wax Snap Bean

Mr. Native Farmer decided to bring home some Yellow Wax Beans. I decided to store them since we didn't need to eat that many beans at once.

First step was to soak them to get the grime and muck off them.

Then I had some helpers come in for the end snapping part of the process. Penelope is showing Calliope how to snap the ends off! Such a good helper!

After we were done we were left with a pot full of shells (went to the worms), a handful of beans (which I saved for seed), and two small sandwich sized bags of "green" beans.

I took the more colorful ones and decided to see if they would ripen.

Not too bad, after about 2 weeks...

More seed saving coming up all this week! Happy Homesteading!

October 23, 2017

Monday Musings: I am not in the Meat business...kind of.

I live on a beef cattle farm. That is the only type of meat business I plan on ever being in on this farm. I am in it for the product of my animals including the cows. My ducks give me eggs (eventually), the chickens give me eggs and more chicks/pullets, and the cows give me calves. One day we might have goats for milk, and we will soon have temporary pigs (not our pigs) and they are for meat but that's a different story since that is our payment for housing the pigs.

So I am not technically in the meat business when it comes to my poultry. They can be on this farm if they do 1 of 3 things: 1. Lay eggs, let's face it that is why I got chickens, 2. Provide protection, my roosters/drakes are living here on the basis of alerting the entire flock to danger plus fertile eggs, and 3. Provide "pet" value love, I have a few (and I mean few) chickens I will let live past their prime on this farm because they provide a special place in my heart.

I bring this up because yesterday I did a trade of some money and 4 cornish hens for 3 Khaki Campbell ducks (a drake and 2 hens). I know exactly what is going to happen to the Cornish hens, what should have happened over 18 months ago but the previous owners were without running water for almost that long and butchering a chicken without running water... *shutter* So they were overweight, really sick because they caught a cold before I got them and couldn't shake it, they couldn't walk, they waddled like a duck, and they were one scare away from a heart attack. They lay 1 egg/week. That, on a production farm, just can't happen.

I know a lot of people may not think it was necessary to have the chickens taken away to be culled just because they weren't producing. I pay the feed bill, I decide what chickens to bring into my flock, I protect my flock as much as I can from predators and illness, and I use their products to make money to pay for said feed bill. That is my homestead, I don't like making the hard decisions but that's what I signed up for when I decided to get living animals. We have had the unfortunate task of putting down a dog recently (not via a vet) because he got hit in the road and we have lost a few cats and put one down (used a vet, $120 later) due to cancer. Those are the decisions you might have to make as just a pet owner none-the-less a farm animal owner. Our poultry are just as much livestock as our cows and both balance on the edge of being livestock and being pets. We love all of our animals as caretakers but you have to be one step removed from "pet" or else those hard decisions add u quickly and take a toll on you as a person.

One last note: Besides being inhumane to allow them to live any longer, they were very very sick. I tried to bring them out of it but they only got sicker. Here are three of the 4 chickens that gave someone else meat today. Just want to thank them for being good chickens.

Happy Homesteading.

October 21, 2017

Ceaberry's Haberdashery: Egg Apron

So when we first got our pullets I wanted to collect eggs in an egg apron. I found a pattern online for one and set out to crochet it. I finished their version in a couple of days. However, it was quite large, nothing wrong with that but I get a bit bored with long arduous rows. So I decided to modify it to have attachable pockets (instead of sewing), and Tunisian crochet for the strap. 

So I set out to make my own pattern: Adult Egg Gathering Apron
It features attach-as-you-go pockets and the Tunisian crochet straps. It is a lot more streamlined. I am coming out with an added larger pocket size soon, now that I have jumbo and duck eggs. 

Since that is the adult version, there is a kids version as well. It is basically just one row of egg pockets. and it does have straps, I just hadn't put them on in the picture.

So if you want to get the pattern it is currently FREE, just add it to your cart and it will apply the discount automatically! Adult Egg Gathering Apron!

Happy Crafting!

October 16, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Inheriting Chickens

This weekend our flock grew from 16 to 57 plus 5 ducks. We inherited a flock from friends that are moving. Now my coops are not set up to house 57 chickens and 5 ducks, nor are my runs. However, we are fixing that as soon as we can and actually the big coop seems to be handling the influx just fine. For some reason, 15 or so chickens from the new flock refuse to go into the coop at night (although they lay eggs in the nesting boxes inside the coop). The ducks just can't physically get into the coop. I will be remedying these things in a short while since winter is coming very soon.

So we got a message on Friday to say that our friends were willing to part with their flock. We didn't know then they were moving so I and Mr. Native Farmer decided on at least 3 chickens we were going to buy. My mother came up since my husband and father-in-law were moving the rest of our cattle home. We loaded up the van with two crates and two children excited to go see chickens. I had the map loaded up to get there, it wasn't hard but they live a bit back in the woods and I had never driven there by myself.

We get to their house and were talking with my friend, who told us she was moving. I asked her how many chickens she had, she said 30 chickens... well, after getting everyone it was 41 chickens. We have enough knowledge of chicken owners that a few may go to a different home but for now, they are all part of our flock.

We had just lost a silkie hen to a raccoon only a day before and one of our silkie hens turned into a rooster so we had 5 roos already on the farm and she guessed she had 4-5 roos. We told them to give us a price for all the chickens, and somehow ducks got added into this price and a new small coop. Now if you know me, I was adamant against ducks but here I was loading 5 into the back of my mom's van. C'est la vie.

Two trips and we got them all except 5 that were roaming around. Now, me and Mr. Native farmer went back the next day and got the coop and the 5 chickens we left, including a one-eyed rooster. The chickens were surprisingly clean, it was the ducks that made a mess of my mom's van.

So they all made it through the night, and we got 22 eggs the first day of having them here. 22 eggs... we normally get just 3 eggs!! Quiches and frozen eggs here I come! Just kidding, I will be doing some of that but we have some to sell, some to give to friends, and of course, it is how I pay my mother back for setting up our now chicken farm.

Now for the array of colors, we got today. The first picture has the 4 we ate for breakfast in it and the second picture is of the other eggs minus those four plus one more we got a bit later. As you can see we got some Marans (the chocolate egg), a mint egg layer (she is a white beautiful easter egger), and an olive egger (we don't know who she is just yet but I have my suspicions).

Here is the flock in our large coop run. Yes, I know it is A LOT of chickens in one space but they were used to each other so not really a lot of fighting and no pecking either. They get plenty of water sources and food, plus fresh treats like apples and squash which they demolished. As you can see from the pictures they love to congregate in the extension so it looks more jammed then it really is, there is the whole original run plus under the coop they seem to just not like going to, granted I was near them and they learned quickly I have the food.

Happy Homesteading.

October 13, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: My Square Foot Garden Plan 2018

I have been working hard on figuring out where everything is going in my newly installed raised beds for square foot gardening.  I should note that you may notice containers. I am in a competition with Mr. Native Farmer over potatoes (more on this in a later post) and a few of my other things are in containers because they already are in a container or need to be (like my mint and cotton). There is an Asparagus bed with tomatoes on the side, that is part of doing companion planting. This is NOT how the beds are laid out in my actual garden, I have a compost bin and in the very middle of my garden is a rhubarb patch that has been there for well over 40 years (not kidding, it is practically an heirloom in itself, just like our grape vines). 

So here is my plan for the lower garden for next year!

There are 75 seeds on my list, not all of them are going in the garden and by the chart of "containers", not all of them are going into the raised beds. So here are my seeds I will be planting at some point in 2018. The sprouts, however, are not being planted. You see the main groups of my garden. Some of the extra seeds will be planted in my two raised beds at my house and I have a whole hillside of roses, berry bushes, and wildflower mixes to attend to next year.

Asparagus, Mary Washington Blueberry, Highbush Lavender, English Potatoes Tomato, Beefsteak Pink
Basil, Mix Blueberry, Pink Limonade Lettuce, Gourmet/Mesclun Mix Pumpkin, Jack Be Little Tomato, Brandywine, Yellow
Bean, Bush, Borlotti Broccoli, Romanesco Italia Melon, Banana Pumpkin, Wee Be Little Tomato, Cherry Red (small)
Bean, Bush, Calypso Brussel Sprouts, Long Island Catskill Mint, Spearmint  Radish, Champion Tomato, Cherry White
Bean, Bush, Harvester Cabbage, Acre, Golden Onion, Walla Walla Spinach, Matador Viking Tomato, Gardener’s Delight
Bean, Bush, Landreth Cabbage, Copenhagen Onion, shallot, Holland red Sprouts, Alfalfa Tomato, Oxheart, Orange
Bean, Bush, Provider Carrot, Chantenay, 5” Long Pea, Austrian Field Pea Sprouts, Broccoli Tomato, Roma
Bean, Bush, Romano Cauliflower, All Year Round Pea, Little Marvel Sprouts, clover Tomato, Tiny Tim
Bean, Bush, Slenderette Celery Pepper, Banana Yellow Sprouts, Rainbow Chard Wheat, Sampler Pack
Bean, Bush, Tendergreen Corn, Sweet Pepper, Cayenne, Purple Sprouts, Sunflower Wildflower, Celosia
Bean, Bush, Tiger’s Eye Cover Crop, Clover, White Dutch Pepper, Chocolate Bell Squash, Crookneck, Yellow Early Summer Wildflower, Low grow scatter
Bean, Pole, Dry, Cherokee Trail of Tears Cover Crop, Fall & Winter Rye Pepper, Hot Holiday Marbles Sunflower, Autumn Beauty Wildflower, Marigold, Sparky Mix
Bean, Pole, Lima, Henderson Garlic, Early Purple Italian Pepper, Orange Horizon Sunflower, Mammoth Wildflower, Nasturtium, Black Velvet
Bean, Pole, Lima, King of the Garden Gourd, Luffa Pepper, Purple beauty Sunflower, Sungold Wildflower, Snapdragon, Mix
Bean, Pole, Lima, Thorogreen Gourd, mixed (small) Pepper, Sunbright Yellow Sunflower, Sungold, Dwarf Wildflower, tansy
Hopefully, this inspires you to make your own garden plan. Happy Homesteading!!

October 9, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Until the cows come home

Many people who do not live on a cattle farm of various types may not understand the statement, "until the cows come home." I hear that statement, and say it, multiple times from May to October when our cows go to pasture on other grazing allotments and are not right behind the house. We bring them home for the winter and for calving. We calve in the winter (October to December depending on when the bull was brought in and then left).

Until the cows come home:

  1. We can leave all the gates open. This means we do not have to endlessly stop vehicles and go open a gate only to have the vehicle go past then reclose the gate and hop back in the vehicle to the next gate. 
    • Now thankfully we don't have many gates but sometimes... let's just say the cows get through said gates. Now it isn't so problematic at the main farmhouse, that is off the road and we can generally lure them back with hay. At our homestead, we have two gates (well three but they can't get to that one). One is right next to the road and the other (the one they like to break through) is at the lower end of our homestead (we are on a hill so imagine a gate at the top near the road and a gate at the bottom that is in our side/backyard). 
    • We leave gates open because we are bringing items in like trucks, tractors, equipment, and hay bales.
  2. We can store and bring in hay without risk of cows getting into the lots.
    • This may sound like a weird thing to say, but our cows are stupidly smart. They are smart enough to get into the hay lots but it costs us unnecessary hay loss when it happens. 
    • We do give the cows the benefit of the doubt that something was wrong with the paneling but last year they were getting in there EVERY night for 4 night in a row. The offending cow was taken to the stockyard. If you don't rid yourself of the cow that is breaking in she will teach them all then you have a HUGE problem on your hands.
    • We are not completely done with our haymaking and storing so having to maneuver around curiously hungry cows is not always pleasant.
  3. You don't have to make 3 trips to the farm every day to check for calves.
    • While exciting as it sounds to go check on cows about to give birth, it is not always idyllic nor "down home country" as people lead on. If you have ever watched The Incredible Dr. Pol, you get some sense of what I am talking about here.
    • I have, and probably will this year, been woken up at 4 am to a phone call saying one of the cows is baying or that my FIL is out in the middle of a blizzard to help pull a calf. Then it is: bundle everyone up to go help and seek out the cow in need.
    • You have to count cows, multiple times, each and EVERY trip. We have woods where our cows can go and hide their calves. Many times Mr. Native Farmer has had to carry a calf out of the woods. We do this because a cow and calf alone cannot hold off a pack of coyotes. 
  4. Cows like to escape... all the time.
    • Fixing fence and water gaps have to happen before they get here or else you are chasing them all over the fields of your unhappy neighbors or even worse, on the road. Cows in the road are the fear of EVERY farmer, especially ours that are BLACK cows. You hit a cow with a car and you can trust the cow may not be the only one harmed, you hit a cow with a logging truck (a lot of what we have coming down our road) and unfortunately, it is probably the same scenario. It is DANGEROUS and can end a farm in a heartbeat. 
    • We had some troubling cows again last year, they were breaking the water gap. Our neighbors, thankfully humorous people, came down to tell me. Now normally my FIL is around to go get my husband and fix the issue. This particular day I was alone with my kids on the farm, no MIL, FIL, or husband. So I called my MIL (the closest) and went to go find my husband. If you don't know he works on a larger farm during the day so I cannot always know where he is at a certain time. We got them in and had to fix the fence AND the water gap. They went to pasture first...
  5. You don't have the smell... or the risk of stepping in piles.
    • Granted when they thought of our homesteads they thought of wind direction. We don't get as much cow smell as some farms but there is the occasion. I have chickens so really... not that terrible.
    • What is more treacherous is the cow patties. I am the one that opens the gates so you can see my disdain. The cows LOVE to graze near fences, gates, and my house. So they are EVERYWHERE. Strangely, these behaviors mean the business end is generally away from the fence about 5ft. However, in the spring things get a bit trickier when we are walking the property for wild mushrooms and other projects like planting potatoes.
So when the cows come home is more of a warning than a good thing. Yes, having them close while calving is great but they come with their own issues. It marks a time of the year where things start to change. More use of tractors for feeding hay, the growing seasons are normally done, we are getting ready for winter, time for getting wood for the wood stove (our only source of heat in the winter), and for calf watch. It is awesome when that last calf is born, we are off birthing watch but still on baby watch for any problems or predators.

September 27, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Cooking Wild Mushrooms

Mr. Native Farmer likes to find mushrooms in the woods around our county. We normally find them right here on the farm but sometimes we need to go into the deep woods to get them. Please remember to be responsible when mushrooming and obey any local laws. Now back to the mushrooms. We collect morels, chicken and hen of the woods, bear's tooth or lion's mane, and black and orange chanterelles. Now a note on chanterelles and chicken of the woods, yes both of these mushrooms are BRIGHT orange but there are imposters. Jack-o-lanterns (which glow in the dark) look oddly like a chicken mushroom and a chanterelle. It is DEADLY, you need to know what you are looking for when mushrooming. Now there are false chanterelles and while they are not deadly they do cause tummy upset if eaten it larger quantities. The difference is subtle if you don't know what you are looking for in mushrooms. There are false morels as well, again they can cause death if eaten in large quantities. So that warning aside, we mushroom a lot and we know what we are looking for and if we are not sure we don't eat it. Well, I should say the husband doesn't eat it. I can't eat wild mushrooms or deer meat for that matter. Something just doesn't agree with me.

Now I do cook them. I tend to sauté them in butter with a little bit of salt (it pulls out the moisture). With wild mushrooms its critical to cook them thoroughly. With chicken of the woods I add chicken boullion cubes. They are delicious that way.

So the other day my husband brought home lion's mane (bear's tooth is a bit more tubular) and a few chicken of the woods. You want bright colors and very little insect problems. Larger chicken of the woods can be riddled with beetles. If you get a huge clod of it, put it in the refrigerator in a closed paper bag for a few hours, it doesn't kill the beetles but it slows their little butts down. 

This is how I was presented with the mushrooms. It is always a surprise when he comes home with mushrooms so I always have to think fast.

Here is the mushrooms out of the bag and prepared. The lion's mane is easy. It is attached midway up a tree so it rarely has dirt or debris. The chicken is also attached to a tree but a little lower so I just cut off the backs and it is mostly clean from there. 

I put all the mushrooms in a pan and put it on medium heat. You don't want it too high at first or the mushrooms will burn before they release their water. I put salt on them to help the issue go a bit faster.

When they start to release their water I put in the butter and turn the heat up to medium high.

I sauté them down until they no longer release water. This is really hard to get right. You just have to do it and each batch is different. Mushrooms go from stiff to rubbery to stiff when completely cooked. The water they give off is replaced by the butter (and chicken bouillon if making chicken of the woods) so the mushrooms absorb that loveliness.

It isn't that hard to cook wild mushrooms, generally the hardest part is harvesting the RIGHT mushrooms for the job. Again if you ever in doubt it isn't worth the trip to the emergency room.

Happy Homesteading!

September 26, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: Second Coop

For our little chicken, bought for a mere $2, we built a whole new coop. Well, technically Mr. Native Farmer coerced me into building a new coop. While I still need to work out the wheels, we built a coop out of an old bunny hutch my husband brought home one day to be my actual coop (now he sees why I laughed when he said it would house my 6 chickens I originally planned on). We added supports and I stapled around the bottom. We added a ramp and made it a bit more stable. 

We added a metal roof so it wouldn't leak as bad and cut holes in it for windows, which I put more chicken wire in front of to keep critters out. I added latches to the doors and we were in business!

We placed them on a hill near the bushes I cut down earlier this year to help take the grass away for next year's project. 

 Here are the girls in the new coop. There is also a cochin bannie and a silkie rooster.

They make quick work of their run area, even when I extended it. This was after only 1 day! Good chickens!! They have done a good job, but I need to move them toward their final destination, down below the hill. Before I do that I am going to finish putting 4 wheels on it. This coop is easily 300lbs and we have found just two wheels won't work. Now that I actually have the right boring tool it should be easier to complete!

Now on to something a little less pleasant... Mr. Native Farmer had gotten a rooster from the farmer's market and he was gorgeous! We were excited to add him to the flock. Unfortunately less than a week after having him he had massive heart failure and died within a day. Big Joe will be forever missed even though he was only with us a short amount of time. A combination of pecking order and dogs attacking our coop was too much for him in that short week.

September 25, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Egg Envy

When we got chickens it was for the eggs. Our initial set of pullets were born sometime in early April. That means our pullets wouldn't be ready to lay until at least September. Mr. Native Farmer isn't a patient person and he gets a bit of look-over-the-fence-itis. We have 17 chickens, 14 hens and 3 roosters (that many roosters isn't as bad as it seems). Now technically we should be getting 10ish eggs a day by now. My lovely husband is getting restless, he sees the eggs our cousins are getting or a neighbor are getting and he complains a bit about out 3-a-day average (our biggest amount was yesterday at 6 and today was 2 eggs). Let's note both the neighbors and our cousins' chickens were born in February and purchased in March. One set are Rhode Island Reds which lay 2 eggs a day, and the other set are a mixture of chickens who also tend to lay 6 times a week. Our chickens on the other hand are 2 months younger and the breeds range from 3-6 times a week. I do have to say the ones that are only suppose to lay 3 times a week definitely exceed that at the current moment, they lay more like 5 times a week.

In the last two weeks we have been getting more and more "first eggs" here on the farm. One day we had 2 first eggs. Now for those of you who haven't had chickens before (raises hand), first eggs are a bit of a shocker. Most blogs will tell you about the hilariously small eggs from new layers but they forget one fact. First eggs come out a bit bloodied. We have had from a small spot on the shell to down right covered. Yup it isn't pretty, which is probably why no-one mentions it or photographs it. Don't worry no photos of bloody eggs here either but I thought you should know if you are waiting for your first eggs.

As for size... I finally got a hilariously small egg AFTER getting 5 new layers first. Yeah, my hens laid pretty decent sized first eggs. Actually, I even thought maybe a bird from outside had gotten in and laid an egg it was so tiny compared to the other first eggs. My hens are also laying in the pine shavings and not in the nesting boxes (sigh) so finding that tiny one was quite a trip. I believe it was from a silkie based on the size of egg it will eventually become. My other first eggs have been on the border of pewee and small in weight so not so bad, but the smallest was only 19g instead of the 35-40g of the others. Today I had a first egg weigh 37g and a sebright egg (one of my few white egg layers) weigh 35g so it was bigger then my normal eggs!

Brown leghorn (bottom and left), First egg -- cleaned (middle), and Sebright -- it looks cream but it was white (top and right).

We have about 8 new layers, 4 old layers and 2 undecided. One of our Brown leghorns decided to go broody so no eggs from her for a while, it took my sebrights about 2 weeks to recover from when they went broody on me in the summer. Now, experience chicken owners may know, leghorns aren't typically good brooders, and they lay white eggs (they are what most of the eggs are in the supermarket). This leghorn went broody and its the one that lays cream eggs so go figure. The two chickens not laying are the little bannie, she is only 5 months old and I believe one of my australorps that may be a rooster... but she just looks like a rooster, she doesn't act like one.

Happy Homesteading!